Things are really heating up in the League of Ireland coming into the final stretch.

Most Premier Division clubs have seven games remaining. While the title seems, Tallaght bound we still have plenty to sort out.

The small matters of relegation and European football are still to be set in stone. With no rubber matches between now and the end of the season it’s still all to play for.

The First Division is a different beast completely. All teams have seven games left and it would take a brave soul to guess where the First Division title will end up. That’s without dishing out the Play Off positions.

Realistically everyone bar Shamrock Rovers II, Wexford and Athlone Town can make a push for the title or play offs.

The past three weeks have thrown up a different First Division league leader. This matchday round sees all First Division clubs pulling double duty. So, goodness knows where we will find ourselves next week with that.

Unfortunately, due to all First Division teams playing twice in the space of a few days we will only be previewing their first round of games all taking place on Friday.

Now enough of this chin wagging let’s look at what we can look forward to this weekend.

For the limited amount if people being welcomed back into their ground of choice this weekend, enjoy. We will all be back very soon.

Soccer: League of Ireland Review with Tom O'Connor - Highland Radio -  Latest Donegal News and Sport

Friday 18th of September 2020

Premier Division

Derry City vs St. Patricks Athletic

Venue – Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

Kick Off – 5.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 5/4 Draw 2/1 Away Win 21/10

Watch On – Watch LOI

We start this weekends action with possibly two of this biggest underachievers of the season. This was expected to be a game in the race for Europe. But surprisingly both teams are desperate to avoid the drop.

Derry returned to league action last week with a disappointing 0-0 draw against derby rivals Finn Harps. Ballybofey is a tough place to visit but manager Declan Devine won’t be happy with their second half performance.

Goalkeeper Peter Cherrie pulled off some decent stops to earn his side a point against Harps. He might not have much to do against the Saints.

St. Pats come into this one in an awful state. They were the better side against Sligo last weekend and could have got more than a draw.

However, their final product is just non-existent. Forget winning a game, Pats haven’t even scored a single goal in over a month. This is something they’ll need to change in this one. They’re really looking like a team in decline and that’s not a place they want to be coming into the final stretch.

Verdict – Draw.

Darren Cole's family and friends were surprised by the standard of the  league - Irish Mirror Online

Sligo Rovers vs Bohemians

Venue – The Showgrounds

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 5/2 Draw 21/10 Away Win EVS

Watch On – RTE 2

Sligo find themselves in somewhat of a delicate position. Yes, they have turned their season around greatly since the break. But they are coming off a below par performance against strugglers St. Pats.

A performance that seen them look very light up front. Strange from a side that has scored 15 goals in all competitions since the return.

This is the start of a tough run of games for the Bit O Red. It could see them stamp their place in Europe next season or suddenly looking over their shoulders at the lower end of the table.

They can only take it one game at a time, but they have already lost 2-0 to their opponents early in the season.

We have a Bohemians team coming into this one off the back of two defeats. Defeats that could of quite possible squashed their title hopes.

They were comfortably beaten at home by Waterford last time out. Missing out on a vital opportunity to put pressure on leaders Shamrock Rovers.

They now find themselves in a dog fight to hang on the that second place position. Bohs need their young guns like Wight and Grant to kick back on and get them out of this blimp of bad form they find themselves in.

Verdict – Tight Bohs win.

Sligo Rovers move up to third as they see off nine-man Finn Harps

First Division

Bray Wanderers vs Longford Town

Venue – The Carlisle Ground

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 20/21 Draw 23/10 Away Win 11/4

We start our First Division action with new league leaders Bray. They find themselves in inspired form winning their last three league games and scoring three goals in each. In fact, they haven’t lost a game since the 8th of August.

It’s a real team effort with Bray when scoring goals. They aren’t relying on one player to provide them. The Seagulls have had six different goal scorers in their last three games. With them showing no signs of them drying up anytime soon.

They face fellow title contenders Longford who find themselves also on a good recent run of form. Their last three games have seen them go without a defeat. With them picking up a point last time out against other title contenders Drogheda.

This is the start of a big weekend for Longford as they face two fellow title and play off rivals. It could be looked at as a make or break one for them.

While they have been playing well and find themselves three points off the top. They also find themselves three points away from dropping as far down as 6th.

Verdict – Bray are just looking to good.

Fixtures & Results - Senior Team - Bray Wanderers FC

UCD vs Drogheda United

Venue – UCD Bowl

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 21/10 Draw 5/2 Away Win 11/10

Another mouth-watering tie between two more teams fighting for the top spot.

It’s all about which UCD side shows up. The Students easily beat Cobh Ramblers away last weekend 6-0. That’s on top of beating Wexford 8-0 at the start of the month too. With a 3-0 defeat to Galway in between.

They also have the league’s top scorer in their ranks with Yoyo Mahdy who has netted ten goals this season. Along with the likes of Liam Kerrigan and Colm Whelan consistently performing well.

Drogheda are another team really fighting for automatic promotion with a squad full of good young talent. The likes of Mark Doyle, Brandon Bermingham and Richie O’Farrell all really impressing this season.

As good as Drogheda have been this season, they are still dropping points against the likes of Longford, Cobh, and Athlone recently enough. They do have an impressive 5-1 victory over UCD from earlier in the season.

Verdict – Tough shout this one, play it safe with a draw.

UCD hand Cabo first defeat of the season, Drogheda capitalise to close gap

Shamrock Rovers II vs Cabinteely

Venue – Tallaght Stadium

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 11/5 Draw 5/2 Away Win 21/20

This intriguing game sees two of the more out of form sides meeting desperate for a win.

Home side Shamrock Rovers II have lost three on the bounce now and have conceded five goals in the process. Every week these are a nightmare team to predict.

Just with the set up they act off the needs of the Shamrock Rovers first team and the team can be missing key players on a weekly basis.

Saying that they do have regular talented players like Brandon Kavanagh and Aaron Bolger who recently returned from his loan spell at Cardiff. These are the lads they’ll need to try hang on to and try get some consistency together before they make the regular jump to the first team squad.

The bubble of Cabinteely has well and truly burst now. They made a stirring attempt at hanging on to their pole position in the league. Since letting go of their grip at the top they have been a team in free fall mode.

Cabo haven’t won in their last five games in all competitions and would bite your hand off for a play off position now.

The goals have stopped coming too. They only scored twice in those last five games. Stephen Barnes who found his shooting boots at the start of the season hasn’t scored in over a month now.

Verdict – Big win for Cabinteely to get back on track.

Premier Division wipe out on the cards if Brandon Kavanagh gets under-21  call-up - Dublin Live

Galway United vs Wexford

Venue – Eamonn Deacy Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 4/11 Draw 15/4 Away Win 13/2

Everything is coming up Milhouse for Galway at the minute.

They have been revitalised since the arrival of new manager John Caufield. Since the experienced gaffer has took over league game duty the Tribesmen have won three out of his three games in charge. Scoring nine goals and only conceding twice during that spell.

Tougher test does lie ahead for Galway under Caufield, but you can’t knock the quick impact he has had on the club. Even lads like Mickey Place suddenly look like they’re playing with more confidence.

Unfortunately for Wexford fans they don’t seem to be the tougher test.

They have been the leagues whipping boys lately. Wexford haven’t won in their last eight games and find themselves on a rotten seven game losing streak. They have conceded 21 times in the league during that spell and only found the net twice themselves.

With the form of teams above them they’ll just be hoping to get this season done and dusted.

Verdict – No doubting Galway to win this one.

Galway United announce return of Vince Faherty for 2020 - Galway Daily

Athlone Town vs Cobh Ramblers

Venue – Athlone Town Stadium

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 3/1 Draw 3/1 Away Win 8/11

If Wexford fans thought, they had it bad it could be worse. Athlone haven’t won a league game all season and currently sit rock bottom of the First Division on three points.

However, they did pick up a surprising 1-1 draw in their last outing against Cabinteely.

Like Wexford the league is a write off for them and has been for a long time this season. They’ll put their sole focus on the FAI Cup and have all eyes on the quarter final draw this coming Friday.

For Cobh they will still be in that scrap for the final play off position.

On their day they will cause anybody problems, but they were well beaten at home in their last game. Suffering a 6-0 defeat to UCD.

In fairness to Cobh not many people are talking about them, but they are only six points off the top spot. It’s very unlikely they will win the league but if they put another string of results together, they could be a nightmare side for anyone coming into the home stretch.

Verdict – Cobh.

Extratime.com - Extratime.ie - League Report: Athlone Town 0 - 4 Shamrock  Rovers II

Saturday 19th of September 2020

Premier Division

Shelbourne vs Finn Harps

Venue – Tolka Park

Kick Off – 7.30 pm

Odds – Home Win EVS Draw 21/10 Away Win 13/5

Watch On – Watch LOI

Just the one game on Saturday.

Shelbourne look to really push themselves away from the bottom part of the table. While Finn Harps desperately look to get out of that relegation play off position.

Shelbourne were bitterly unlucky in their last game against Dundalk. They lost 3-2 and looked down and out going 2-0 down in the first ten minutes. But they pulled out a gutsy performance to pull it back to 2-2 and really could have got something out of the game.

Away from that good performance their form hasn’t been great. Shels haven’t won in their last five league games and have only won once since returning from the break.

While the performance against Dundalk was commendable, they need points rather than performances now.

Many wrote Harps off as they were rooted to the bottom of the table. Recently the Donegal side have shown signs of life. They even managed to jump up into the relegation play off position. A position manager Ollie Horgan has openly admitted they would take no questions asked.

They picked up a point last time out against Derry and really should have won the game. This came off the back of a spirted performance in defeat against Sligo, a cup win against Bray and a stunning win away to Waterford.

There may be life yet in Harps let’s not bury them just yet.

Verdict – Shelbourne to snatch three points at home.

Shels march on after seven-goal rollercoaster in Galway

Sunday 20th of September

Premier Division

Cork City vs Dundalk

Venue – Turner’s Cross

Kick Off – 5.00 pm

Odds – Home Win 5/1 Draw 3/1 Away Win 4/9

Watch On – Watch LOI

How the mighty have fallen. Not that long ago this would have been a vital six pointer to clinch the title.

These are now worrying times for all involved at Cork City. They haven’t won in their last four games.

Most recently they lost to league leaders Shamrock Rovers. Cork looked awful in this game and looked like they had very little to often at all as they were comfortably beaten 3-0. If we have any gamblers reader, I would be confident in them going on to be automatically relegated.

The season certainly hasn’t gone to plan for reigning champions Dundalk. It’s very likely they will lose grip of their league title and can only hope for a European position. Even that will require consistent results.

As much as we all joked and laughed Dundalk have been on a decent run since new manager Filippo Giovagnoli took over. The Lilywhites have won the two games the Italian has taken charge of.

With the most recent coming in that close 3-2 win over Shelbourne at home. Giovagnoli made some surprising changes to the team in that game. It may be the wake up call the Dundalk squad needed.

Verdict – Dundalk.

Cork City move off bottom of table with comprehensive win over Sligo -  Independent.ie

Monday 21st of September 2020

Premier Division

Shamrock Rovers vs Waterford

Venue – Tallaght Stadium

Kick Off – 7.00 pm

Odds – Home Win 1/4 Draw 4/1 Away Win 9/1

Watch On – Watch LOI

We finish up with this game between two teams coming off a big week.

Shamrock Rovers coming off the back of their huge Europa League tie against AC Milan. This is being done before that game. So, for context we will say brilliant great result for the league or ah sh**e and edit it depending on the result.

While that was happening for Rovers. Waterford said goodbye to their manager of eight games John Sheridan. Bye John don’t come back now you hear.

Anyway, it only seems like a matter of time before Rovers are crowned champions.

They are still unbeaten all season and have only dropped four points during that cracking run.

Honestly, what is left to say about them. They are playing excellent football and dominating most games. Even games they get frustrated in they usually still unlock the opposition defence.

They are on a four-game win streak in all competitions at the time of writing and have pushed away all comers. With that recent win over Bohemians surely making the title race a one team race.

Waterford are a side that has also beaten Bohs recently. They are turning things around after a bad patch of results and have now won two games on the bounce.

While losing their manager isn’t ideal, they certainly have enough to stay in the league during these strange times. Players like Allie Coote, Michael O’Connor, Oluwatimilehin Sobowale, Tyreke Wilson and Kurtis Byrne give them plenty of quality all over the pitch.

Unfortunately for them this week they are just coming up against a Rovers side that are on a collision course for the title.

Verdict – Shamrock Rovers.

Shamrock Rovers' Lee Grace opens up on winter trial with Championship club  Hull City - Dublin Live

First Division

Longford Town vs UCD (Bishopsgate at 7.45 pm)

Cabinteely vs Galway United (Stradbrook at 7.45 pm)

Cobh Ramblers vs Bray Wanderers (St. Colman’s Park at 7.45 pm)

Wexford vs Athlone Town (Ferrycarrig Park at 7.45 pm)

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

First Division

Drogheda United vs Shamrock Rovers II (United Park at 7.45 pm)

2018 SSE Airtricity League format confirmed